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The Three Rules of the Turtleneck

Between this month’s GQ and a certain Internet-breaking lookbook, the turtleneck-under-a-blazer is having a moment. You’ll want to approach this one with caution, but if you can pull it off you’ll be able to get a lot more wear out of any blazers in your closet—and you’ll be spending the next few months with a much warmer neck than the rest of us.

Just know the rules before you start...

It’s All About TextureThe rougher the better. The danger here is that your undershirt flattens out into an undifferentiated sheet of cloth like, well, this guy. Instead, opt for thicker knits, ribbed patterns or anything that looks like it belongs on a fishing boat. The two pics above offer a good contrast. If you can’t see where the collar roll ends, you’re doing something wrong.

Know Your EraYou’ve got two choices here: the ’40s and the ’70s. If you have even a passing interest in swagger, you’ll want to opt for the latter—Steve McQueen over Bing Crosby. This has less to do with the turtleneck itself than what you pair it with. We’re thinking tweeds and denims instead of more upscale wools. You’re dressing for a car chase, not for Grandma’s house.

Protect Your NeckAs Mitch Hedberg put it, “it’s like being strangled by a really weak guy.” (We like to think he meant that as a compliment.) The point here is to keep your neck warm, so any mock turtles or semi-turtles should stay in the discount pile where they belong. You want to feel comfortable going scarf-less with this particular look, so choose your collars accordingly.

And having the right double-breasted blazer certainly wouldn’t hurt.